I had my blog post all ready to go for today when I realized that I needed to lay some groundwork. I’m writing a series of posts this week about past Thanksgiving trips we’ve taken in an effort to help my muddled mind decide what to do this year.
Since 2003, MTM and I have had one – just one – rule in our household. We do not spend family holidays with extended family. It isn’t that we don’t love our extended families. We’ve just found that these periods of forced togetherness don’t generate the goodwill and cheer that people often dream of. We visit my parents around the holidays, and MTM’s mom always spends a week or so with us between Turkey Day and Christmas Eve. So, we see them with a much more relaxed vibe and far lower expectations on both sides.
Additionally, a factor contributing to this madness may be that, if you poke around, it is DIRT CHEAP to fly out of the country for Thanksgiving. Airlines are raping everyone domestically for flying to break bread and slurp cranberry sauce with the relations. It is off season for travel to Europe, mostly because it is cold and raining all the time in much of it during November. The museums are empty. The hotels have specials galore. The restaurants are leisurely and tasty. Sure, we wear rain gear, but we wander along the mostly vacant sidewalks in peace.
There are several other rules for this Thanksgiving jaunt. First, we have to do it all for under a set price, making the cost of airfare the normal deal breaker for a destination. We once found round trip tickets for under $600 to Rome when it was $750 to fly to Canada. CANADA! Usually, there are European bargains like this to be had around Turkey Day, even from Charleston, if one is persistent.
Initially, the rules also dictated that we had to go somewhere neither of us had been. Because MTM has lived abroad three separate times in his life, this is a short list of desirable places. For the past couple of years, we haven’t been able to find a decent ticket that met this criteria, causing us to re-frame this requirement as “seeing something together for the first time.” This year, we’re trying to get back in the spirit and see a new-to-both-of-us place together, but it remains to be seen whether or not the airline gods will cooperate with our top choices.
Lastly, we Do. Not. Eat. Turkey. On. The. Trip. Cranberry sauce is forbidden. Green bean casserole with the french fried onions on top; macaroni and cheese; sweet potato casserole; stuffing – all of it is not on the menu. Once, I meandered around Nancy, France on Thanksgiving Day, visiting every bakery in town doing a taste test comparison of the different pastries. Because I was walking, I thought my waistline could handle this abuse, and that was my Turkey Day breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. “Day of Pastry” beat “Day of Dry Turkey” any time.
So, this week, I’m going to share some of our past Thanksgiving experiences in an effort to generate additional ideas for 2010. Maybe it will inspire some people to throw convention out the window and do something radical this year. It IS the secret to our happy marriage. We’re both convinced of it.